While our children our young, it can be extremely difficult to do anything more than simply make it through the day. So by all this talk of making the extra effort and getting in the spirit, I am not saying that we should do more than what we can really do. The time in my life when I wrote these entries for this collection is when my children were moving out of their baby years. My youngest child was getting ready to turn two, and there were no other babies on the horizon for our family (though we did put our request in with Stork Central). My oldest child was a first grader, and my middle child was getting ready to enter Kindergarten the following year. I was kind of in a weird state of limbo where I wanted to celebrate the mere fact that I might be able to move on to the next stage of parenting without other babies in arms—but I also felt like I needed to grieve over the reality that there might be no more babies. One of my methods of expressing relief (taking good care of babies is very hard work!), employing distraction (the uncertainty was palpable), and coping with the loss of unfulfilled dreams (I guess you could call them) of having a super-large family was to do more. Make the cranberry sauce from scratch (not hard), clean the walls (for real), write more books (what can I say, I like to write). These sorts of things were my way of growing into the greater capacity I slowly gained to do all the things I wanted to do but never could really get around to them on account of taking care of three newborns within a period of six years.
Your way to handle change in your life may look a lot different. But no matter where we are on this continuum of family life, it’s important to remember that the holiday season is about togetherness and generosity—within the context of wherever our “you are here” dot is on our journey of marriage and parenthood. So even though we may feel disappointment or frustration because we can’t get to all the things we want to do or because things aren’t exactly the way we want them right now, we don’t have to stay there, in the tar of disappointment or frustration. We can choose to step outside of the place of un-preferable-ness and enter the transcendent land of simply being together with those we love (and being grateful for that gift of having our own family—even if we have presently split off from the family we came out of, whether by necessity or force) while getting on the boomerang ride of being generous to the extent that we are able (loving-kindness, thoughtfulness, and acceptance doesn’t cost a thing!).